¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 For several years, zine librarians across North America have been collaborating to build a union catalog for zines. A “union catalog” is a resource where libraries can share cataloging and holdings information, the prime example being WorldCat, which has thousands of member libraries. A union catalog allows librarians to copy catalog records and facilitates lending across libraries. For researchers, the primary benefit is being able to discover zine holdings by searching a single catalog. The zine union catalog (ZUC) would serve people working in English, Ethnic Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Media Studies, History, Library and Information Science, Popular Culture, Psychology, Rhetoric, Sociology, and other fields. Here are the key points in executive summary bullets:
- ¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0
- A crossrepository resource for zine research, providing access to metadata about as many zines, and in as many ways (linked open data, links to digital content, etc.) as possible.
- A collaborative platform for cataloging zines and their creators, by persons both within and external to the library profession.
- A hub for zine research, where partners can seek inspiration and collaboration.
- A promotional and educational resource for the zine genre.
- A tool capable of supporting projects to incorporate digitized (and born digital) zine (and zinerelated) material into other platforms such as the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 I propose building this catalog in the open source tool Collective Access. Collective Access (CA), unlike a similar tool Omeka, allows core fields (name, geographic location, historical event or era, etc.) to be tied to their own unique records (or tables), rather functioning solely as linkable fields, which are thereby vulnerable to degradation. CA is developed in New York City and has an active user group here. Another advantage to using CA is that the Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP) is built in it, so we would have a place to start from. Further, I am closely connected to the QZAP developers, as well as the lead on another CA project LaMama Archives Digital Collections, so I would have easy access to people who have already made mistakes and solved problems who would share their experiences with us.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 This catalog can be started with datasets from disparate zine libraries and zine library collections including ABC No Rio, Barnard College, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Denver Zine Library, QZAP, and possibly others. The project benefits from having a close-knit, committed, and warm community of zine librarians, in which I am deeply embedded. Members of the project team will benefit from working with an existing client for the project, a client comprised of brilliant, creative people from around the country with a range of skills, who are accustomed to working within a social justice framework and in an atmosphere of hospitality.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 ZUC differs from many digital humanities archives projects in that rather than surfacing and providing access to unique materials, its holdings are multiples, and the emphasis is on cooperation between libraries to provide physical, as well as digital access to materials. Scholars from many humanities, as well as social sciences fields, will enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Why It Matters
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 Zines are self-produced and self-published literature that often feature countercultural, political, and artistic content. They are produced in small runs, and are often distributed directly by the author or through “distros” (i.e., specialized distributors of alternative publications). As such, zines provide a firsthand, personal, and documentary account of movements in social, political, and art history and provide evidence of knowledge production and dissemination within alternative communities. They are used by humanities scholars as primary source documents on a variety of topics, and are regarded as a critical record of third wave feminism and the riot grrrl movement, punk rock and the punk aesthetic, popular culture and fandom, and local history in urban centers.
¶ 8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Because zines exist in a countercultural space, historically they have been collected and circulated by independent zine libraries. Over the last fifteen years, public libraries, special collections, and academic research libraries have begun collecting zines as scholarly resources and as part of leisure reading collections. This hybrid environment of zine collections translates into dispersed, erratic mechanisms for access. Zine descriptions and metadata, and thus discovery of zines, is scattered across library catalogs, archival finding aids, standalone databases, spreadsheets, and online platforms such as LibraryThing. This situation poses impediments to finding and using zines in aggregate for research, teaching, and learning in the humanities, but the Zine Union Catalog (ZUC) seeks to aggregate metadata from these disparate sources.
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 The end product of this project is a searchable catalog, to which libraries can upload their holdings. If we are ambitious, further goals are to automate the upload process. We will also create an API so that zine librarians and researchers can download the data and build on what we have done. The class will benefit from being able to start, not from scratch, but from work that has already been established by a motivated user group.
¶ 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 Sharing what we learn about how to crosswalk disparate datasets will be of value to other digital humanists, so providing detailed, yet readable documentation will be an essential part of this project. That information will go on the website that houses the catalog. That website could be something new or it could be on the zinelibraries.info site.
¶ 14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 If members are interested, it is likely we could get a paper on the project published in a peer reviewed library and information science journal (preferably Open Access!).
¶ 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 Before Trump’s ascension, I would have called this an eminently fundable project. If the Knight Foundation or Mellon’s funding remains stable, I am confident that we could advance the prototype we build in class. This union catalog is unique in that it pulls bibliographic data from disparate sources. Library funding agencies seem interested in developing cooperative projects like this one, as well as on Linked Open Data projects, which I hope will be the next step for the ZUC.
¶ 45 Leave a comment on paragraph 45 0 Project Manager – Leads the project and keeps it on track. Requires at least surface knowledge of coding, design, user experience, metadata, and library cataloging. This person will work with the team to establish and stick to a timeline, adapting it as needed. Personal strengths should include big picture thinking, collaborative leadership, an ability to stay focused and not get lost in details, and a cool head.
¶ 46 Leave a comment on paragraph 46 0 Lead Developer – Primary responsibility for technology planning and implementation. The developer should have a critical approach to technology, as well as skills in MySQL, PHP, XML, and jQuery. They should be able to communicate technical jargon to the client and take user needs seriously. Personal strengths should include being like the GC Digital Fellows: supportive, patient, and empathetic.
¶ 47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0 Client (Product Owner) – Keeps the project grounded in user needs, prevents it from becoming what seems cool or doable to the development team. The client has knowledge of zine libraries around the world, their needs and strengths. They will also be responsible for keeping the project ethical and responsible, according to the Zine Librarians Code of Ethics. Personal strengths include being able to flip between the client role and that of a team member, as they will need to contribute to each aspect of the project. They will need to be able to articulate user needs in a way that makes sense to each member of the team.
¶ 48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0 Lead Designer – Responsible for the look and feel of the catalog and architecture of the website. They will also need to have some PHP, XML, and CSS chops. Personal strengths should include creativity but also pragmatism—the need to balance the ultimate vision with what’s possible in the short term.
¶ 49 Leave a comment on paragraph 49 0 Lead Metadata Specialist – Takes charge of schema and authorities. This person should have knowledge of current and developing library cataloging standards and the principles of linked open data and BIBFRAME. Personal strengths include tight attention to detail.
¶ 50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0 Outreach Coordinator and Documentarian – Deals with internal and external communication: help text, shared working notes, social media, and grantwriting. This person should be organized and precise with their language. Personal strengths include creativity, flexibility, and excellent writing skills.
¶ 58 Leave a comment on paragraph 58 0 Knight Prototype Grant Proposal – In 2016 the Zine Libraries Zine Union Catalog working group was a finalist for this grant. We were not successful because what we were asking for was a planning grant, rather than funding to build a prototype, and thus were out of scope.
¶ 59 Leave a comment on paragraph 59 0 NEH HCRR Grant Proposal – In 2016 the Zine Libraries Zine Union Catalog wrote this grant, but the hosting institution pulled it due to a local restructuring. Thanks, University of Texas.
¶ 60 Leave a comment on paragraph 60 0 Scholar support letters from Kate Eichhorn, New School; Frank Farmer, University of Kansas, and Aiesha Turman, St. Joseph High School and Ph.D. Candidate Union Institute and University.
¶ 65 Leave a comment on paragraph 65 0  Some of the language in this proposal is from grants that I co-wrote with others. I was the lead writer on a Knight grant and a contributor to an NEH grant. I’m just saying that so it’s clear that the proposal is the result of a collaborative effort. Since I didn’t write a proposal for my final project, I don’t feel that it’s on me to present 100% original content here. I hope that’s all right!